By 2020, 50 billion of our devices will be connected to each other and the cloud, changing our lives at home, work, school and play. Here's 7 areas of your life that will be impacted.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is the combination of sensors, cloud technology, artificial intelligence and analytics that will allow us to work and live better. If you work in the Information Technology field then you may be directly involved in the process to collect, analyze and make decisions using the data or in helping create or support the very large software/hardware/platforms which deliver the service.
The platform example from Intel shows the magnitude of the software and hardware required for IoT. From the connected device (sensors) into a cloud/data center and then the analytics to gain insight and take action.
Perhaps the Nest thermostat from Google is one of the more known entries into the home IoT market. Nest can adapt to the living habits of the people as well as the equipment used for cooling and heating to determine the optimal settings for both comfort and savings. In the future this will evolve into cooling/heating the space where we spend most of our time and not wasting it on rooms we hardly use. The same optimization can be done for lighting and water usage. Appliances such as washer/dryers can run during non-peak electricity usage times. Refrigerators can alert you when you need to buy more as it's used. Gas leaks and smoke alerts can be sent to mobile devices. Maintenance needs can be alerted before it's too late avoiding costly repairs. The office can incorporate many of the same energy saving IoT as the home. Some more novel uses of IoT could be to determine which parts of the office are being used such conference rooms or to determine if certain groups or departments should be located closer together.
Increasing operational efficiency is the primary objective of using IoT in the Industrial sector. Using IoT for predictive maintenance can reduce maintenance costs by 30% and breakdowns by 70%. Water utilities are using sensors on pipes to detect and fix leaks. Leaks and aging pipes in the US lose 2.1 trillion gallons of water annually providing a huge opportunity for savings as water becomes more of a precious resource. GE is using sensors in airplane parts and engines to better maintain planes and have more available to optimize utilization and minimize airline delays.
Some companies are creating revenue by providing IoT services for their products. Apache Corporation, an oil and gas exploration company is using IoT to help customers predict when oil pump failures will happen. Just reducing these failures by 1 % for the global oil industry would add $ 19 Billion more output per year. Michelin is using sensors in tires to gain insight to help truck fleet manager reduce fuel consumption.
Logistics companies were among the first user of IoT, with drivers using the hand held scanners providing real time delivery notification. Today we get deliver notification on our mobile device so the door bell doesn't even have to be rung anymore. In warehouse operations, IoT, is being used to ensure correct receipt of goods and optimized put away so space and eventual picking is optimized. In addition, IoT has greatly improved safety by providing alerts when machine and people come into close proximity. To alert when a pallet is not properly loaded where falling goods may cause injury or damage product. Wearable devices can help detect exhaustion and fatigue.
Bridges collapsing like the Minneapolis I-35 one, dams breaking, gas leaks like the recent California one relocating 700 families seem to be regular events. Costly and time consuming manual inspections are very limiting. In this area IoT can provide sensors that collect information that can be used to predict maintenance needs before such devastating events occur. IoT will provide many other improvements for city living as shown on the graphic below (click on graphic for a larger view).
The self driving car may be the ultimate IoT device reshaping how we use and own cars. Even today human driven cars are using IoT for navigation, safety and infotainment. One example, currently happening is the use of sensors on street parking spots that will guide potential users to the location without having to go through the endless street by street search. On the safety side there are a few developments already or close to reality:
Personal fit devices have been around for some time but they are advancing by collecting more data and being connected to the internet to share and communicate information. These devices can do the following:
The large data set could reveal patterns and correlations regarding our health that expensive small sample studies presently cannot. Hospitals are just beginning to take advantage of these technologies. Hospital stays that involve monitoring can be potentially done at home using IoT devices providing a more comfortable and less expensive alternative. IoT can be used to monitor medication usage to alert when a person forgets and may not take what they need or exceed what they should take.
IoT will be a huge impact on IT from both as user and provider. Much of the user coincides with what's highlighted above. From the provider side, Gartner, has identified the following:
IT will also help drive the usage of the immense data that is going into the data centers. Analytics and Visualization to help gain insight is the primary goal from human to device communications.
IoT will be a technology that will transform the way the world works and how we live in it over the next 20 years. It will greatly improve our lives making it safer and more livable. It will provide insight that will operational efficiency and improve productivity in the workplace. Along with it we will have to deal with the privacy and security issues that come with personal data and automated decision making. The decreased cost of hardware and advances in software and artificial intelligence will allow IoT to be a part of every physical object in the world including living beings. It will be interesting to see what insight we gain from it.